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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2287687
You divide yourself into pieces, then arm each one with weapons, wander around as if lost.
1.

"What's with the orb?"

Naga had heard that question for over 200 years and always wondered... how many more times could they safely ignore it... before...

The orb protected their soul. It had guided them through darkness and light, danger and safety. To Naga it was never clear which was which.

But the orb knew.

Naga nodded, smiled and said nothing.

They avoided people whenever they could. The balance of yin and yang that flowed through them changed with the phases of the moon. They had learned that most humans couldn't handle that.

They had been born a boy along the Mekong when the bubbles burst forth in fireballs as they did every full moon in October. But family had become concerned by their androgynous appearance and behavior as they wore a dress as comfortably as a sword. Neighbors whispered that they were the child of Phaya Nak, Guardian of the Mekong. Every New Year they felt a masculine arousal. Every New Moon they felt the pull of Mother Earth's womb. Tomorrow would be the beginning of another cycle.

Naga had traveled north to the mountains of Yunnan in search of the Source of their Being. The orb lead the way.

Now the orb glowed green. They scurried through scattered broken stones. Danger was approaching.

They found a tree and leaned their back into it.

A shimmering figure clothed in white shuffled silently through the snow.

"Go away", they whispered. "I won't buy what you're selling."

"Not even if it will take you to your destiny?"

"Not even then."

Naga knew their destiny. It was the path they needed to focus on.

"But..."

"There are no shortcuts to your proffered Heaven, only a highway to a promised Hell."

The figure vanished as they knew it would, as so many had vanished before. Before. So many boring "befores". The centuries of searching for their Source were wearing them down. There was little new to amuse them in their wanderings.

They glanced once at the small box left behind, turned and continued trudging through the snow. Some paths needed to be made not followed.

Naga ignored the encounter. Curiosity had killed the cat. Many a dragon and wolf had cajoled them with that. Mere words. But a snow tiger had shown them what it really meant with its fangs, claws and bad breath.

They had been doubly wary ever since.

"Are your a witch or a warlock."

They turned to find a small bundle of fur jumping from footprint to footprint. That it could talk did not surprise them. That it was rainbow colored merely amused them. That it somehow knew what they were... nah, that was no mystery to non-humans. It was its cuteness that frightened them. They'd have to reinforce their mental and emotional guards.

Naga muttered some words under their breath.

"That may protect you from me but ancient worn-out words won't protect you from yourself."

This was no newborn kitten.

"You try to hide your true identity. You divide yourself into pieces and then arm each one with weapons. You wander around as if lost."

Naga's nostrils flared.

"The orb is your problem."

They gasped.

"The soul that has been trapped in it for centuries yearns to be set free."

2.

Naga trudged, leaving footprints that Fluff followed. Everything had to have a name they figured. They couldn't pronounce whatever Fluff had said was his... hers... theirs... its name. They were truly uncertain and uncaring as they themselves were half female, half male... both and neither.

The mountains soaring above them promised nothing but ice; the path through the plains promised nothing but freezing cold.

There was only one set of footprints though.

Fluff didn't trust the soft loose snow. Neither did Naga as they plowed through hard-packed drifts and strolled through snow demons that appeared out of nowhere. Neither fazed them as their globe glittered in amusement.

"When will you release your soul? Why not now?"

Fluff had a knack of asking annoying questions.

They broke their vow of silence to answer. "Where not when."

"Why not here?"

A good question. But they weren't at the Source and they needed the orb to guide them to it.

"And after centuries of going around in circles you still trust the orb?"

Fluff was a pain in their unending cycles, an eddy in their steady flow.

They planted their staff in a snow bank and turned to face Fluff.

They saw the faces of their forefathers dancing in its eyes.

3.

"This is a good place as any."

"Yes, it's time."


A litany of intercession washed over them, wafted through them, entered places long locked, the keys lost. They could smell the earth thawing, buds eager to burst forth. The mountains chimed in their crystal cathedrals, icicles tinkled, the snow became a blanket of warmth.

Naga dared not move.

"They are frightened."

"Yes, they are."

"Yes, they both are."

"Forgive us, forgive us, forgive us..."


They let out a scream, a descant, a booming bass.

A landslide threatened to bury them all.

The orb cracked.

"We accept you as you are."

"Accept yourself."

"We are sorry."

Naga fell to the ground. The snow-mounds broke their fall. The cold flakes coming down blanketed their weary form as Fluff perched on top of their head and purred.

4.

Naga sat up suddenly. Fluff growled at being disturbed, then spoke.

"You're awake."

The shattered orb sat at Naga's feet.

"My orb!"

"Yes. It broke into shards. You won't need it from here on."

"The voices..."

"...are gone."

"But..."

"You're you now."

Naga looked in a melted puddle. The face grimacing back was soft, somehow familiar, albeit with a scanty beard. Was it half male, half female? Both?

"You'll get used to it."

"This is the Source?"

"No. The Source was always within you. Your soul remained protected in the orb until you were ready to let it rejoin you. Now you are one. Now you can stop wandering."

Naga looked around and saw a flower blooming.

"How long have I been here?"

"Long enough. But now I must go. I despise rain and mud."

It began to sprinkle as Fluff disappeared in a puff of rainbow colored air.

© Kåre Enga [179.116] (31.desember.2022)

~1035 words... based on the image provided for
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